After the game, Demers and Brophy, who had been antagonists all season, embraced each other near the Maple Leaf bench. "I congratulated him and wished them luck against Edmonton," Brophy said. "His team played great hockey for him when they got it going."
All the usually loquacious Demers could say was, "The miracle that couldn't happen, happened."
The Battle of Quebec between the Canadiens and the Nordiques turned on an inflammatory moment in Game 5 that will henceforth be known as the Call. It came at 17:07 of the third period, with the game and the series tied at two apiece. Quebec's Alain Cote came down and slid a shot past fallen Montreal goalie Brian Hayward for an apparent goal and a 3-2 lead. But referee Kerry Fraser waved the goal off, ruling that he was in the process of calling offsetting penalties against Montreal's Mats Naslund and Quebec's Paul Gillis. Then, just 14 seconds later, Ryan Walter of the Canadiens scored the game-winner. The Nordiques went nuts.
"All I want is justice," screamed Bergeron, who had to be restrained by police as he pursued Fraser down a hallway to the official's dressing room after the game. "Am I crazy? Am I crazy?" the coach asked.
For years Bergeron has claimed that the Canadiens are the favored children of the NHL power structure, specifically the referees, FRASER'S CALL LENDS CREDENCE TO CHARGES OF FAVORITISM FOR HABS read a headline in The ( Montreal) Gazette the next morning. Everyone was coming down on Fraser. Even NHL executive vice-president Brian O'Neill wouldn't support Fraser's judgment. "I have my personal opinion about the call itself," O'Neill told Tim Burke of The Gazette. "But I won't discuss it."
Attaway to take a stand, Brian. This is the guy who's in charge of giving fines and suspensions for the league?
You know what's really funny? The Call was right. Fraser had to disallow the goal. Photographs show that just before Cote shot, Gillis had interfered with Hayward by kicking Hayward's left skate out from under him while the goalie was in the crease. Nor had Gillis been forced into the crease by Naslund, who was on Gillis's inside and was trying to push him away. Give Fraser credit—he displayed guts, not favoritism, with his call. The NHL so seldom sees that in its referees that the league hardly knows how to act when it happens.
The series shifted back to Quebec for Game 6, and for two periods the Nordiques were playing as if they were still shell-shocked from the Call. Trailing 2-0 and having mustered only 12 shots on goal, they seemed to have called it quits. The Canadiens had taken three consecutive games from them and were 4-0 on the road since the start of the playoffs. Moreover, no team is better than Montreal at protecting a lead. But Bergeron's troops didn't quit. Fired up by a childish taunting gesture toward the scoreboard by the Canadiens' Claude Lemieux and by a between-periods tongue-lashing from normally reticent assistant coach Guy Lapointe, the Nordiques scored three unanswered third-period goals to send the Battle of Quebec back to Montreal for a seventh game on Saturday.
After a breathtaking first period in which Quebec grabbed a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal by John Ogrodnick, the Canadiens took charge of that final game with a barrage of five unanswered second-period goals on just eight shots. Walter scored the first two, his fifth and sixth of the series, and then assisted on another by Bobby Smith. The stunned Nordiques sank into a lull, and in the final 32 seconds of the period, Shayne Corson and Mike McPhee coasted in unmolested and beat Quebec goalie Mario Gosselin on high drives from the slot.
The game, which teetered precariously on the edge of mayhem for two periods, could have gone out of control. The emotions on both sides were still high, and the score was out of hand. But to his credit, Bergeron had his team stick to playing hockey, and Quebec scored twice in the third period before losing 5-3.